Whenever the flames surrounding John Delaney’s ill-fated tenure began to rise, John O’Regan was always first on the scene to tackle the blaze, armed with nothing more than two lungs full of air.
We saw it numerous times over the past seven months. The secretary of the Kerry District League frequently appeared on radio and television to defend his stricken comrade, on one occasion going so far as to say that the embattled celebrity administrator should be “running the country”.
Now, following his resignation 10 days ago, the Delaney years are done. The fire fighting failed and all that remains is a charred pile of guff and empty promises.
Yet, in spite of everything, in spite of the litany of misconduct allegations, both pecuniary and moral, O’Regan still stands by his man. Speaking to the Irish Independent last weekend, the FAI Senior Council member once again reiterated his unwavering support for his long-time friend and associate.
“He’s done a fantastic job here in Kerry,” O’Regan said. “John Delaney was in the job for 14 or 15 years. He did mighty work for many, many years.
“I’m listening to people in the grassroots in Kerry and Limerick and all over. In youth soccer and junior soccer and schoolboy soccer. They have no problem with John Delaney. He’s done an awful lot for that side of the game. The people I have seen whingeing and moaning are the crowd in the League of Ireland.
“I can’t see what was done wrong to be honest.”
Frankly, that last line is staggering. Or at least it would be were it not so painfully predictable.
Let’s get this straight. As far as John O’Regan is concerned, John Delaney providing the FAI with a secret bridging loan of €100,000 due to the association having “insufficient funds” was not wrong.
Devising the Vantage Club premium ticketing scheme, a disastrous venture which left the association struggling to pay its share of the Aviva Stadium construction costs, was not wrong.
Accepting, on behalf of the FAI, a secret €5 million pay-off from FIFA over the Thierry Henry handball affair was not wrong.
Accepting a salary of €450,000 (later €360,000) at a time when FAI staff were being made redundant was not wrong.
Taking €36,000 a year to help pay for his rent (in addition to his salary) was not wrong.
Spending €40,000 on his company credit card over a six-month period, including €400 at Tommy Hilfiger and €226 on shirts from Thomas Pink, was not wrong.
The fact that this year the FAI, who Delaney said would be debt-free by 2020, needed financial assistance from UEFA just to avoid collapse was not wrong.
And now, even though the ex-CEO has been forced to quit on the back of all of these astonishing revelations, many of which came to light after some excellent journalism by Mark Tighe and The Sunday Times, O’Regan still “can’t see what was done wrong to be honest”.
Sticking by John Delaney at this stage of proceedings is dumbfounding and when the head of the Kerry District League continues to do so, it undoubtedly causes reputational damage to Kerry soccer.
Does O’Regan genuinely not see what Delaney has done wrong (which would be very concerning) or is he misusing his position and status to defend the indefensible (also very concerning)?
What makes this all the more confusing is the fact that for the first time in 15 years, backing John Delaney cannot in any way benefit the game in this part of the world – if it ever did at all.
Delaney is gone. He has returned his badges, both FAI and UEFA. He has turned in his green tie (though not the one he triumphantly tossed into the crowd in Moscow). He has handed over his shoes (though not the pair he had taken from his feet in Sopot, nor the ones he generously gifted to a needy “itinerant” child).
And, tearfully no doubt, he has even checked in his pride and joy: the novelty, over-sized company chequebook.
O’Regan’s words are problematic but what’s more worrying from my point of view is that his remarks are invariably met with silence. In terms of media coverage, I haven’t seen too many column inches dedicated to the secretary of the KDL or the things he has said.
When various league chairmen and boards around the country unilaterally backed Delaney in March, many clubs spoke out to say that they hadn’t been consulted. That hasn’t been the case in Kerry, despite the fact that virtually everyone I’ve spoken to disagrees with O’Regan’s sentiments entirely.
In fact, when I wrote about O’Regan and the KDL earlier this year, players at certain clubs were warned by their managers not to share, like or comment on my articles.
Why is that?
O’Regan wields a lot of power in Mounthawk Park. In addition to acting as league secretary, he is also fixtures secretary and joint treasurer. And if you were listening to Radio Kerry last Saturday evening, you would have heard the man who runs Kerry soccer assuming PRO duties too as he previewed the weekend’s junior soccer fixtures. In some instances, he even predicted who was going to win.
Allies will point to this omnipresence as evidence of O’Regan’s dedication, as well as proof of how hard it is to find volunteers to fill these roles.
Others, including former league officers and club officials, have claimed privately that in the KDL, it’s O’Regan’s way or the highway. If that is, indeed, the case, it seems as though many people have simply chosen the highway.
O’Regan’s disciples speak of all the hard work he has done for the KDL down through the decades and there’s no denying that over the course of his 44-year reign he has given up thousands of hours of his time.
As the son of a long-serving club official myself, and as someone who has served as PRO for my own GAA club, I know how thankless a job it is to volunteer for an amateur sport. Anyone who takes up a voluntary role within a club or sporting organisation is deserving of great credit, especially if they do it for a long period of time. That should go without saying.
But all the service in the world shouldn’t shield you from criticism if you get something wrong.
When you represent a club or a league, be it for four weeks or forty-four years, you have to be held accountable. O’Regan is answerable to the clubs, not the other way around.
Look at it this way: if GAA president John Horan did what John Delaney did, and Tim Murphy, the chairman of the Kerry County Board, came out and repeatedly backed him without asking the clubs for their opinions, would he get a free pass? No chance. The clubs and the media would be up in arms, and rightly so.
A profile piece by Mike Rice of The Kerryman dated January 2012 revealed that O’Regan “has been nicknamed ‘God’ by many of his friends in the world of soccer as he has made so many things happen at Mounthawk Park”. And it’s not just friends. Foes also seem to cast O’Regan in this divine light.
For many people within the Kerry soccer family, this raises a difficult question. How do you stand up to God?
Chance to win a house in Killarney and support Kerry GAA
The Kerry GAA County Board has launched a ‘Win A House draw’ for a new house in Killarney . Funds raised by the draw will go towards the running expenses of the various Kerry football and hurling teams. The three-bed house is located in the Ceide Spris development just off the Park Road is built […]
The Kerry GAA County Board has launched a ‘Win A House draw’ for a new house in Killarney
Funds raised by the draw will go towards the running expenses of the various Kerry football and hurling teams.
The three-bed house is located in the Ceide Spris development just off the Park Road is built to modern energy standards, it represents a fantastic opportunity for people to get involved at a cost of €100 which will go a long way to supporting Kerry GAA.
“As a volunteer-based organisation, we have always had to fundraise to support our teams and clubs. We are delighted to be in a position to have a dream house available for a lucky winner,” Kerry GAA PRO Leona Twiss.
“While only one person can win the house, there will be plenty of cash prizes and match tickets to be won along the way. The sooner you purchase your ticket, the better chance you will have at winning those additional prizes.”
To enter the draw visit: https://www.kerrygaa.ie/winahouseinkerry/
More great choices for large shrubbery
Following last week’s article on large shrubs, I received many comments, suggestions and questions, leading me to believe that there were quite a few people unsure of what to plant in a large space. I felt at the end of the article there were definitely more plants for that list so here are some […]
Following last week’s article on large shrubs, I received many comments, suggestions and questions, leading me to believe that there were quite a few people unsure of what to plant in a large space.
I felt at the end of the article there were definitely more plants for that list so here are some more great choices for the large shrubbery.
The bottlebrush, or Callistemon, is named appropriately for the shape of its flowers which are bottle-brush like spikes of many small flowers with long stamens, giving it that brush like appearance. Usually red, they are also available in yellow and pink. They flower in summer and into autumn adding a lovely splash of colour. Their leaves are hard and spiky with arching branches. Cut them back immediately after flowering or they will not flower the following year. If they do grow out of hand, they will tolerate a hard cut back.
Ceanothus, or the Californian lilac, is an often evergreen shrub bearing dark blue flowers. There are several sizes from the low creeping C. repens, to the tree like proportions of C. thyrsiflorus. An ideal candidate for the large border is C. ‘Gloire de Versailles’, which has large blue flowers from July to the end of autumn, (deciduous), or C. ‘Southmead’ which has dark blue flowers in early spring (semi-evergreen), or C. ‘Blue Mound’ which has deep blue flowers (evergreen). I find with all ceanothus that their flowering times seem to be very weather dependant!
Forsythia is a large common shrub which flowers early in spring before the leaves appear. I mention it as it seems to have gone out of fashion completely, though it adds such a fantastic yellow brightness in those dark February days.People often complain that it either grows out of all proportions or that it does not flower. If pruning, do so immediately after flowering. ‘Golden Nugget’ is possibly one of the smaller varieties at a natural five foot.
An unusual, but well worth finding plant is the Sorbus reducta. It is a low 1-1.5m type of mountain ash, with all the great features of its larger tree relatives! It forms a thicket – yes, it does sucker, but does not take over, has white flowers followed by dark red berries which fade to a creamy colour. Like most mountain ashes, its autumn colour is blazing!
Butterfly bushes, buddleja, are a much maligned plant as it can self seed and become a bit of a nuisance. However, it does not really self seed much in gardens where the conditions are not ideal, (ideal conditions – derelict, dry, stony waste land). Most cultivated varieties are sterile, so there is no reason to avoid them! B. colvilei is a very unusual variety, being semi-evergreen with large panicles of tubular dark pink flowers – these clusters can reach up to 20cm. B. davidii is the common butterfly bush and is available in a range of colours such as ‘Black Knight’, deep, deep purple, ‘Empire Blue’, blue flowers with orange centre, ‘Royal Red’, deep pink/maroon. One of my favourites is ‘Harlequin’ which has variegated leaves. There is a range of smaller butterfly bush available too; the ‘buzz’ series.
These remain compact, up to 1m, however their flowers are not quite as impressive! To remedy that, plant breeders have come up with a new variety – the ‘Rocketstar’ series. I have only just planted one, but it promises a diminutive 80cm with the same large flowers as large varieties have. If this plant does what its creators claim, it will certainly be a hit in my garden!
Checklist for CAO Change of Mind
Many of you are still working your way through the Leaving Cert exams but with the CAO Change of Mind deadline approaching on July 1, it is really important that you take some time to look at the details of your CAO application, particularly your course choices. This is the last opportunity for you […]
Many of you are still working your way through the Leaving Cert exams but with the CAO Change of Mind deadline approaching on July 1, it is really important that you take some time to look at the details of your CAO application, particularly your course choices.
This is the last opportunity for you to make changes before the final deadline at 5.15pm on tha day. It has been a challenging two years, with lots of uncertainty and so much has been out of your control. What is within your control now is how you finalise your CAO choices to ensure that you give yourself the best chance of securing a place on a course you want in September. Leaving Cert results will be issued on September 3 with CAO Round 1 Offers out on September 7. To use the Change of Mind facility you simply log on to www.cao.ie, click on ‘My Application’ and log in with your CAO number, date of birth and account password.
As you review your CAO choices in the coming weeks, use the following checklist as a guide:
* Have you checked your Statement of Application email from CAO and verified that all your details are correct including personal, educational and exemption details?
* Have you included courses on both sides of the CAO (Level 8 and Level 7/6). This gives you the best chance of getting two offers when the Round 1 Offers come out – the top choice that you qualify for on each list. You will then have to choose which one you prefer.
* Have you filled in as many of the 20 choices as you can? You have the option to fill up 10 on both sides, giving you 20 possible options for college in the new academic year. By filling all 20 choices you give yourself 20 chances of getting a college place.
* Have you checked the Alert Lists on www.cao.ie? Lots of new courses have been added in several colleges since the CAO Handbook was published last September, some very recently. You can add these courses in by checking the course code on the Alert List.
* Have you taken out courses that you are no longer interested in? Lots of students rush the application ahead of the February 1 deadline with the intention of coming back to look at the course choices more closely. It is not unusual for students to completely change their minds between February and July 1.
* Have you researched the detail of any course that you are including on your CAO application – take particular note of entry requirements and modules. By doing so you are giving yourself the best chance of choosing courses that you are able for, that suit you and that you are interested in.
* Have you listed your courses in Order of Preference? This is the golden rule of CAO. No one knows what the points will be for 2021 until the day the Round 1 offers come out and equally you won’t know your results of exams and/or accredited grades until September 3. My advice is don’t try to second guess either of them and before 5.15pm on July 1, make sure that your course choices are listed in Order of Preference!
* Have you applied the HEAR and/or DARE schemes or completed the HPAT exam? If so you will know the outcome of your applications on June 29 and the result of the HPAT exam is expected around the same time. This may influence your decisions around your choices.
You have had a challenging senior cycle, all the more reason to look ahead to a brighter future. Take time to review your CAO course choices, research your options outside of CAO and make an informed decision about the best next step after the Leaving Cert!
In next week’s column I will be answering your questions about CAO Change of Mind and offer stage so please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook on @mycareerplan1.
Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors and Careers Advisor at www.mycareerplan.ie.
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